Palestinians expected to decide today on terms for talks with Israel

Conflicting reports emerged from yesterday’s top-level discussions in Ramallah

US secretary of state John Kerry: some Palestinian officials claimed the meeting participants were leaning towards accepting Mr Kerry’s formula for restarting peace talks with Israel. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/Pool via The New York Times

Palestinian leaders have delayed a decision about restarting peace talks with Israel, and will reconvene today in Ramallah.

Conflicting reports emerged from yesterday's top-level discussions, which were called by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas after two rounds of talks with US secretary of state John Kerry in the Jordanian capital Amman.

Two meetings, both described by participants as stormy, were held yesterday in Ramallah.

Some participants said Israel must first meet Palestinian terms before negotiations can start.


PLO official Qais Abdel-Karim said a final decision was expected today. “There is a general tendency among PLO officials to reject resuming negotiations before Israel recognises the 1967 borders as a base for the peace process and ends settlement activity.”

Other Palestinian officials claimed the meeting participants were leaning towards accepting Mr Kerry’s formula, but have appointed a committee to examine the proposals in detail.

As a precondition to resuming bilateral talks, the Palestinians had demanded an Israeli commitment to freeze all settlement construction.

However, under intense US pressure, Mr Abbas and Arab League representatives agreed to accept the de facto slowdown over recent months of settlement building combined with a declaration by Mr Kerry that the basis for talks would be the 1967 border with agreed-to land swaps.

Prisoner release
In return, Israel will release some 100 veteran Palestinian prisoners.

Mr Kerry, on his sixth trip to the region since becoming US secretary of state, was keen to make a formal announcement on the resumption of talks ahead of his planned departure today.

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem